One Week to Go..

Mateo returns to the rotation after dealing with his back issues and the Cubs avoid a 100-loss season with there win last night. Go Cubs! GAME ONE HUNDRED-FIFTY-SIX IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (63-92 (Draft) 3rd - 4.5 GB) AT CINCINNATI REDS (75-79 (Div) 3rd - 5.5 GB; (WC) 5th - 6.0 GB) The Great American Home Run Park, 12:15 pm CDT Weather: Partly Cloudy, 69 degrees, Wind from R to L @ 13 mph TV: CSN, DirecTV 735 Radio: WGN, XM 186
Aaron Harang, RHP 14-11, 3.91 ERA, 216.1 IP 198 K, 56 BB, 26 HR 274/323/442 againstJuan Mateo, RHP 1-3, 4.38 ERA, 39 IP 30 K, 15 BB, 4 HR 289/363/447 against

*Juan Pierre, CF *Freddie Bynum, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF *Scott Moore, 1B Henry Blanco, C *Buck Coats, RF Ronny Cedeno, SS Juan Mateo, P *Chris Denorfia, CF *Scott Hatteberg, 1B Rich Aurilia, SS Adam Dunn, LF Edwin Encarnacion, 3B Brandon Phillips, 2B Norris Hopper, RF Jason LaRue, C Aaron Harang, P

Cubs vs. Harang: Aramis Ramirez: 4-17, 235/278/412, 2 K, 1 BB, 1 HR Juan Pierre: 3-12, 250/250/417, 2 K, 0 BB, 1 3B Reds vs. Mateo: No Reds with more than 10 AB's
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Worst. Lineup. Ever.

thank goodness we have dempster locked up for 2 more yrs!

Our closer is 1-9!

Is Dusty deliberately throwing games or is he really that stupid? First he starts Feckless Freddie Bynum instead of The Riot, then he sticks with Dempster through thin and thin in the ninth until the game is irretrievably lost.Dusty's revenge, I call it.

Title says one week to go, I think Dempster pitches like he thought it was over 2 months ago!

good news: rusch set to re-join the team tuesday

bad news: rusch set to re-join the team tuesday

Our closer has an ERA of 5.00!

not much can gloss over what the dumpster has done since the allstar break, but at least the team has howry/wuertz/aardvark.

the 07 FA relief market is bare to nonexistant...even eyre/ohman dont look bad at all compared to what's gonna be out there.

at least when the team has to look at this offseason, the closer question can be addressed internally.

well damn..his 1st 1/2 wasnt that good either...his homers given up hurt him pretty badly.

Wondering if there is a composite metric by which we can evaluate the apparent trend for "closer-turned-headcase" among Cubs closers of recent past. WHIP, WP, BB, BS, etc somehow weighted by lateness in the game, size of the lead; and trend for this metric in a season, or across a career. I dunno, just seems like these things spiral out of control, and a disproportionate number of these guys come to Wrigley to die. But maybe its just a problem of my maladjusted perspective.

And while I'm at it, if I were ARam, I sure wouldn't be thrilled about signing on for multiple years more of organizational failure like this. His "salary drive" can only be reinforced by days like this. Career day (HR season total) + stinking loss = get me the hell out of here.

Dempster in the rotation in 2007?

~ducks rocks thrown~

Not sure what would be left to evaluate, but Bynum is in the lineup for figuring out next year. Would he be suitable for the bench next year? That sort of thing.

jacos: Dempster in the rotation in 2007?

no no no no no no no no no no no no no

The only thing that's changed between the first two monthes this season (in which he was really good) and the rest of the season is his location now is terrible.

Either way if the Cubs can't keep Ramirez around and they, instead of replacing him, go after some lights out pitching, they're going to need a more reliable closer. I'd hate to see a bunch of 2-1 games next year lost in the 9th.

Dempster's location has always been horrible. He was one lucky SOB last year, and this year? Not so much. Baseball has a weird way of evening that stuff out.

If any player had to be labeled as "Warning: Contents might not be as they appear" it would have been Dempster. He was walking a fine line the year before, and by miracles got out of them. Why someone would then sit down and throw 15 million and 3 years after watching that I don't know. But then again the same guy threw multi-year deals at Rusch and Neifi. Hendry shouldn't be shocked his closer is a piece of crap, the writing was on the wall on that one.

In bonus news, Will Carrol is saying a Ramirez deal is in place.

i'd much rather learn more about theriot than learn more about bynum. come on, now.

also, the latest puff piece on cubs.com talks about pierre's drive for 60 SBs.

it says that he would like to improve his on-base percentage, but at least he has had success stealing.

it mentions he has an OBP of 350.
we wish, it's 330.

56/75 on stolen bases is just under 75%, which is pretty much just above the break even mark, so i'm not ecstatic about that mark either.

i said it november, i repeat it now....the cubs would have been better off signing kenny lofton. it would have been several mill cheaper, you could have kept the THREE pitching prospects, and he had a better year. (K-Lo is like 26/30 on SBs, which is more what i'm looking for. only go when you won't get thrown out)

he also has a higher OBP and SL. argh. don't resign pierre, certainly not at 3/$24 money or any of the crap i've been hearing tossed around

No I do not want Pierre back at anything close to that money. I'm not sure he will be back, I think someone will out-bid us thank you LAD?

Hey Mike C:

Where can I get the Carroll info on Aram?

MikeC: Dempster's location has always been horrible. He was one lucky SOB last year, and this year? Not so much. Baseball has a weird way of evening that stuff out.

I agree about last year, he was very lucky in most cases. April & May '06, though, his location was dead on and he was throwing some pretty nasty junk. He lost something along the way this year, IMO. Either way, you have to find a guy whose reliable to close games.

MikeC: In bonus news, Will Carrol is saying a Ramirez deal is in place.

Let's hope that's true.

oh, Mike C, party foul dude.

Give us a link, reference, something?

I stumbled on the Carroll stuff.

This is from his chat on Tuesday:

"Aunt Jemima (Atlanta): If Aramis Ramirez leaves the Cubs as a free agent, any chance the Cubs would be smart enough to pick up Edwin Encarnacion, a player that the Reds seem to unappreciate? Which guy would they be better off with?

Will Carroll: I don't think Ramirez will leave. In fact, I think the deal's essentially done to keep him.

Encarnacion? Sure, Krivsky traded Lopez and Kearns but that doesn't mean that every GM can pillage his roster, does it?"

http://tinyurl.com/krh2l

The question is 7th from the bottom of the page in the chat transcript.

It's just second hand info and speculation at this point on Ramirez. But it's something.

He damn well better be back.

This was pretty fun from Dempster...

"For whatever reason right now Ö I don't know. Maybe I cheated the baseball God out of cards or something. He's got my number right now. Just got to keep fighting. I've never given up."

Don't ever cross the baseball God, she is a cruel mistress.

errr funny*

Good to hear some news at least leaning toward a deal being close with ARAM. I really think the only way ARAM doesn't come back is if he doen't want to come back. Hendry knows he can't lose ARAM. He knows the offense is not very good right now and without ARAM it would be even more putrid. Hendry is going to have to give him his due money. My guess is a 4-5 year deal at an average of $13 million per. It's gotta happen, and the sooner the better.

I wonder if anyone wants both Ramirez back and Girardi to become the manger, because I don't think it can be both. I have a feeling Joe wouldn't take too kindly to Ram's playing style. With that said, would anyone actually rather have Girardi than Ramirez next year?

Cubs partial tentative 2007 sked:

M 4/2, W-R 4/4-4/5
@ CIN

F-Su 4/6-4/8
@ MIL
--

F-Su 4/13-4/15
vs. CIN
--

W-R 4/18-4/19
@ ATL
--

M-W 4/23-4/25
vs. MIL
--

F-Su 5/11-5/13
@ PHI
--

F-Su 5/18-5/20
vs. CWS

T-R 5/22-5/24
@ SD

F-Su 5/25-5/27
@ LAD
--

F-Su 6/1-6/3
vs. ATL

M-W 6/4-6/6
@ MIL

R-Su 6/7-6/10
@ ATL
--

T-R 6/19-6/21
@ TEX

F-Su 6/22-6/24
@ CWS
--

F-Su 6/29-7/1
vs. MIL
--

F-Su 7/27-7/29
@ CIN

M-R 7/30-8/2
vs. PHI
--

M-W 8/6-8/8
@ HOU

R-Su 8/9-8/12
@ COL

T-R 8/14-8/16
vs. CIN
--

T-R 8/28-8/30
vs. MIL
--

M-R 9/3-9/6
vs. LAD
--

T-R 9/11-9/13
@ HOU
--

M-W 9/17-9/19
vs. CIN
--

F-Su 9/28-9/30
@ CIN

Season starts and most likely ends in GABP next year.

Teams reporting skeds:
Complete: ATL, PHI, CIN, MIL, LAD, TB, CWS, KC, LAA, TEX
Home: HOU, COL, SD, TOR

Tribune's Overhaul Plan Wins Plaudits
Forbes.com
9/22/2006
Click Here

After refusing previously to consider breaking up the company or selling prize assets, Chairman and CEO Dennis FitzSimons said in the wake of Thursday's five-hour board meeting that all options are on the table.

Investors welcomed the turnabout, pushing Tribune's stock up sharply for a second straight day.

[snip]

Besides a sale or spinoff of the broadcast operations, he sees Tribune reversing course on its refusal to put its Chicago baseball team up for sale, too.

"Despite earlier comments that it would not sell the Cubs baseball team, we think this is also on the table," [FitzSimons] said in a research note.

FitzSimons has long stuck to a strategy of owning both print and broadcast properties in large cities. Now that he has thrown the door open to a sale of assets, that approach could be subject to review along with everything else.

Woops, I messed up one little important detail, the quote saying that selling the Cubs is on the table was not a quote from FiztSimons, it was a quote from Dave Novosel of the Gimme Credit research firm.

I'd say that's a pretty important detail.

As someone who has long advocated the Tribune Company selling the Cubs, I have to be happy that at least it is becoming a realistic possibility. But in the short term, regarding prospects for the 2007 and 2008 season, there will obviously be negative consequences of putting of the Cubs into play, and the overall economic and business difficulties of the Tribune Company. I have used rounded figures below for simplicity. What follows is not what I am recommending, but what I surmise the Cubs might do if cost-cutting becomes the major goal this off-season to prepare the team for sale.

1. Cost cutting. I expect both the player, front office, scouting, and minor league budgets to all take a hit. I would not be surprised at a $30 to $50 million dollar overall reduction. Reducing costs goes directly to the bottomline, especially since the Cubs revenue will be flat or slightly lower as the results of this miserable season comes home to roost in reduced season ticket sales and advertising rates on Cubs media outlets. Reducing costs also makes the team more attractive to potential buyers, who would prefer to make their own mistakes rather than buying someone elses.

2. As a consequence, I expect that not only will the team not sign significant free agents, I expect them to lose Aramis Ramirez. As noted elsewhere, Ramirez could probaby get a 5-year, 15 million dollar a year contract, or thereabouts, from either California, the Dodgers, or Boston. Hendry should have locked him up before the trading deadline or have traded him. Cubs management's arrogance (we're so smart, we're so clever) that Ramirez would not have the guts to exercise his player option will come back to haunt them (and us). Although, under current circumstances they may be just as happy to see an additional $11,000,000 freed up.

3. Zambrano could be traded. Obviously he is going to pull in a large amount of swag if he goes to arbitration. The presale mode will prevent the Cubs from signing him to a long term contract. Finally, he could bring a large amount of value in prospects in a trade (although with the Cubs low level of scouting and disdain for analysts, I would expect to be disappointed in the return.)

4. The Cubs might try to move Izturis and Jones, just to unload their contracts. That would reduce payroll another $12 million dollars.

5. So with $10 million freed up from Kerry Wood's contract ($13 million less $3 million buyout), $11 million from Aramis Ramirez, another approximately $12 million saved with Izturis and Jones gone, and possilbly another $10 million saved of Zambrano is moved, the Cubs' payroll would be down in the fifty to sixty million dollar range, with only Derek Lee's long term contract still on the books. With revenue of around $150 to 170 million dollars, that would increase the sales price of the club that the Trib could demand of interested buyers even if the team loses 110 games.

6. Finally, although a new owner can offer hope, the number of bad sports owners far outnumber the goods ones. Living here in the D.C. area, I can see what Peter Angelos has done to the Orioles. The Tribune Company will want someone who can provide the most swag with the least complication from MLB. I don't think Bud Selig, seeing how Mark Cuban makes Mr. Stein's life miserable in the NBA, will want him in the MLB owners club. He will want someone who will continue to manage the Cubs as a small market club despite its large market resources.

This by the way is not what I would do, but is my speculation on what Hendry and McPhail will do if the Cubs are in fact on the market.

Some harbingers of doom off Fox sports rumors....

If Joe Girardi is fired next Sunday and Dusty Baker and the Cubs part ways, Girardi is likely to get an interview from the Cubs, though Lou Piniella remains high on the Cubs' wish list, according to sources.

.....

The Boston Globe reported the Cubs, Baltimore, Texas and Detroit are interested in the services of free-agent-to-be Luis Gonzalez.

If you think about it, adding Luis Gonzalez and kicking Matt Murton to the curb would be very Cub like.

And if Girardi is gone, we are not getting Fredi Gonzalez of Atlanta....

If Joe Girardi is fired, sources say Atlanta Braves third-base coach Fredi Gonzalez -- thought to be on the Cubs' short list of candidates to replace Dusty Baker -- is the runaway favorite of Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest, who is expected to get his way this time. The last time the Marlins were shopping for a manager -- before this season -- Beinfest wanted Gonzalez but was overruled by owner Jeffrey Loria, who preferred Girardi.

Adding an expensive and declining Luis Gonzalez to give us virtually no upgrade in any facet of the game would indeed be Cub-like. Make sure that your mediocrity costs as much as possible, that's the Cubs' motto.

CubFanFormerlyInGermany: 1. Cost cutting. I expect both the player, front office, scouting, and minor league budgets to all take a hit. I would not be surprised at a $30 to $50 million dollar overall reduction.

Chicago Cubs with a $60 million payroll? That sounds fantastical and drastic, in my opinion. I'm no business expert, but I'm pretty sure the Chicago Cubs operate in their own bubble and ownership changing hands will have little to no effect on team payroll.

If someone knows more about this stuff I would be very interested to know more about it.

the E-man: I'd say that's a pretty important detail.

Yes, on the scale of important details, I'd say that's a 8 or 9, wouldn't you?

*sigh*

If we are lucky enough to be in a save situation in the last week, I vot we give Wuertz a chance to close it out...Not that a one or two game audition means much but if positive, the memory can be a good carry over for Wuertz.

If GM sold off a huge piece of GMAC, the Trib can and should sell the Cubs.

What about Juan Mateo? Where does he fit into 07 plans?

And if Girardi is gone, we are not getting Fredi Gonzalez of Atlanta....

I gotta say, while Gonzalez might be Florida's first choice, I can't imagine that Florida would be any potential managers first choice after what has happened with Girardi.

Someone will take the job, probably someone looking for their first chance to manage, but you'd think Gozalez will probably be given offers from other teams, and I know if I were him, it would take a whole lot to convince me to come to Flordia if I had any other option on the table.

The Marlins job is still more attractive than the Cubs job.

"I really think the only way ARAM doesn't come back is if he doen't want to come back."

Manny, did you mean something else? Because this is kinda obvious, isn't it?

A team that's only willing to spend $15 million on its roster isn't going to outbid the Cubs for a manager. The only way I can see Gonzalez choosing the Marlins over the Cubs is if he's afraid of the scrutiny he'd receive in Chicago.

A team that spent $15 million on it's roster and competes for a Wild Card means it can make all the necassary upgrades it wants and still be well under budget, and likely a dominate team.

A team that spends $95 million and finishes in last place, doesn't have the same wiggle room or the talent in place to compete any time soon.

Any would be manager would be falling over themselves to manage the Marlins team now. They can't spend less, they are already fairly good, and if team owners want to make a run, nothing is stopping them. The Marlins have shown in their history they will stock up on talent at the exact moment they need to in order to win a World Series. The Cubs never have.

4. The Cubs might try to move Izturis and Jones, just to unload their contracts. That would reduce payroll another $12 million dollars.

12 million? How so? Jones is making a little over 5 million a year. Izturis is schedule to make 4.15 million. Wouldn't that be 10 million and not 12 million?

I expect both the player, front office, scouting, and minor league budgets to all take a hit. I would not be surprised at a $30 to $50 million dollar overall reduction.

Do you seriously believe this? There is no way that the Cubs payroll is less then 60 million next year. I would place a substantial bet on it.

"The only way I can see Gonzalez choosing the Marlins over the Cubs is if he's afraid of the scrutiny he'd receive in Chicago."

One other reason Fredi might choose the Marlins is if he compares rosters.

The Marlins job is still more attractive than the Cubs job.

Its easy to have the knee jerk reaction and say that no one would want to have anything to do with the Cubs. But when you think about it, the situations are almost completely opposite.

The Cubs are coming off a horrible season, but they still have Zambrano, Lee, and most likely ARam. Certainly a better core than many teams that have better records. That said, there is almost no where to go but up with the Cubs. There is the appeal that Dusty has talked about of getting to be the guy who brings a championship to the North Side, but if you fail, you'll just be another small chapter in a long list of people who couldn't get the job done with the Cubs.

With the Marlins, you've got almost no where to go but down. While they do have some great young players, It will be exceptionally difficult for any manager to repeat the sucess the Marlins have shown this year. Even if you do win, you'll get to look forward to loosing more of your key players in the coming years.

And of course based on their handling of their current managers, The Cubs and Marlins are again polar opposites. While the Marlins don't want Giradi around anymore, even though he should win manager of the year hands down, Jim Hendry and the Cubs have refused to even say a negative word about Dusty and his many many failings over the past 3 seasons. Even though this season will be another dismal failure for Dusty's team, Hendry still won't publicly say that the team will have a new manager next season. Neither of those situations is ideal, but if I'm looking at prospective employers, the guy who will stand by me even if I prove myself to be totally incompetant is certainly more favorable than a micro-manager who might be pissed off even if I wildly exceed expectations.

Yeah, every manager's dream is to take over a team full of sophomore players with no fanbase playing in a football stadium that they may get kicked out of in a couple years. Add in the total lack of job security due to a batshit crazy owner that may fire you for reasons mostly unrelated to your performance as a manager, the rock bottom payroll, and the prospect of having your few quality players traded away for more rookies, and I'm sure Gonzalez will be falling all over himself to take that job over the Cubs.

BB, I don't think they have anywhere to go but down, unless you think all these blue-chip prospects they garnered are going to all flop for some reason.

Tito:
"Manny, did you mean something else? Because this is kinda obvious, isn't it?"

Not really. What I am saying is, if ARAM wants to come back, he will. I don't think $1-2 million will stop him from leaving, IF he wants to stay here. But it comes down to the fact does he really want to be here. I am thinking he either does (and when Hendry offers him a fair deal he will take it) or doesn't, no matter the money (of course unless hendry offers him basically nothing).

I was thinking just the opposite. I think he'll become FA no matter what and go to the highest bidder, even if it is the Cubs. That's an interesting take on it, though, manny. I never really thought about it that way.

MikeC said: "adding Luis Gonzalez and kicking Matt Murton to the curb would be very Cub like."

No, it would be Dusty-like. Another manager might not have a rule that the older guy gets first dibs.

Starting Monday, we can all get out of the habit of thinking that getting a somewhat-washed-up veteran at a cheap price is dangerous. Remember, Dusty created the monster that we call Neifi Perez.

An old guy on his last contract may not mind getting paid for watching. These guys have their uses. I'm probably in a minority on this board in thinking that the Cubs won't want to shut the door on Felix Pie winning a job next season, potentially in spring training. On the other hand, they don't want to just hand him the job. Gonzalez could be useful as someone for Pie to compete with.

Here's a scenario (with apologies to Jones fans): trade Jones. Sign Gonzalez. Try to land Soriano. If you get him, put him in right. Let Pierre walk and have Pie and Gonzalez argue over center. If you don't get Soriano, keep Pierre and let Pie and Gonzales contest rightfield.

BB, I don't think they have anywhere to go but down, unless you think all these blue-chip prospects they garnered are going to all flop for some reason.

I don't think they are all going to flop, but even the most rosey predictions for the Marlins still had them losing 90+ games this year. The reason they've done better is that a lot of their rookies have done much better than anyone would have expected in their first year. Even if a few of them come back to expected levels, its going to be very difficult for them to repeat this years sucess.

Ryno-
Your thinking can very well be right, I am just throwing out a possible way of thinking. This is going to be his BIG career contract, and he might just want to milk it for all its worth. If he signs a 5 year deal, he will be 34 at the end of it and most likely won't make the money he will be in this contract, so he might just say "SHOW ME THE MONEY".

Or he could possibly do what Furcal did and sign for 3 years and then ARAM would be 32 and if he plays great still over the next 3 years he could cash in again in that next contract.

It will be interesting to see though as I think we all can agree Hendry needs to sign him or it will very difficult to see a successful offseason.

Zambrano has as many or more HRs than 6 of 8 starters today. Sweet lineup.

pierre
theriot
ram
murton
pagan
mabry
blanco
cedeno

Re: the Marlins, there's also the fact that they're playing in an abysmally bad league this year. There are only five teams over .500 in the whole NL and just two in their division.

As far as question marks go into this off season:

Who will own the Cubs next year?
Who will manage the Cubs?
Who will hit home runs for the Cubs?
Who will lead-off of the Cubs?
Who will 3/5 of the starting rotation be?
Who will close games?
Who will play 2nd?

Yikes.

mannytrillo: It will be interesting to see though as I think we all can agree Hendry needs to sign him or it will very difficult to see a successful offseason.

Yep.

There's always Soriano, and his almost 50 HR is hard to argue with, but in my opinion Ramirez is just plain a better hitter than him. And everyone, please spare me the stats; I know Soriano has monster numbers this year.

Newport/Racine: Zambrano has as many or more HRs than 6 of 8 starters today. Sweet lineup.

I was figuring it up, Zambrano plays, say every 5th game, give or take. He has 6 home runs. If he played every day, that makes him about a 25-30 HR batter!!!

We found our DH for interleague play.

Ryno:
"There's always Soriano, and his almost 50 HR is hard to argue with, but in my opinion Ramirez is just plain a better hitter than him."

Yeah, but if they lose ARAM and gain Soriano, that is like a wash. They would need to have both of them, not just one, to really help the offense.

Ryno:
"If he played every day, that makes him about a 25-30 HR batter!!! We found our DH for interleague play."

And he is a switch hitter...:)

But seriously, yeah he is hitting for power, but line of .157 AVG and .167 OBP makes even Cedeno look like Ted Williams.

Wade Miller's first three fastballs today:

84 MPH
84 MPH
85 MPH

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